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Pre-application service

Nutrient Neutrality Advice - added 16 March 2022 Updated 21 July 2022

Natural England (NE) together with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUCH) announced on 16 March 2022 that the entire administrative area of Darlington Borough Council is now located within the catchment area of the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area (SPA).

Under the Habitats Regulations, those planning authorities falling within the catchment area must carefully consider the nutrients impacts of any projects, including new development proposals, on habitat sites and whether those impacts may have an adverse effect on the integrity of the site that requires mitigation.

I would wish to  make clear that this is a Central Government requirement over which Darlington Borough Council as Local Planning Authority has no control, other than ensure that it’s requirements are met and are treated as a material considerations.

I would also stress that Darlington Borough Council had no pre warning on this issue or were consulted with, prior to the advice being issued.

I do appreciate that this issue is likely to present significant problems  for you to ensure that this matter is addressed satisfactorily to enable your application to move forward.

This has an immediate impact on all planning applications which relate to all types of overnight accommodation, such as new dwellings, care homes, student accommodation, holiday accommodation etc. and impacts all developments for one dwelling upwards.

It also affects other applications where development may impact upon water quality, including those seeking to discharge planning conditions relating to foul and surface water drainage for a range of development proposals.

This matter will need to be considered as part of the application process before a decision can be made.

It is likely to require the submission of further information from you to enable this matter to be fully assessed and to identify if mitigation is required and how this will be provided.

We are unable to determine the application without full consideration of this matter. 

This appears to be a very complex issue that affects not just Darlington Borough Council but other local planning authorities within the Tees Valley, North Yorkshire and Cumbria falling within the catchment area and will impact upon a large number of existing planning applications that we have.

To be absolutely clear,  we were advised of this matter on 16 March without any prior warning and as such we are working hard to understand what further information will be required to enable these affected applications to be progressed.

We expect to be issued with further guidance from NE and DLUCH in the forthcoming weeks, although this cannot be guaranteed.

Once we are in a position to advise further we will update this page.

Update 21 July 2022

Following a Government Statement made on 20 July 2022, Natural England have issued further advice:


Do you..

  • Have plans for building works or other developments?
  • Have business premises, but wish to change the current use or alter/extend them?

Are you...

Unsure if you need permission or whether your proposals are likely to be acceptable?

Our Pre Application process is service offered to identify major issues and advise if permission is likely to be granted.

Pre-application charter and fees [pdf document]

If you would like us to check your proposal before you submit an application, please fill in one of the following forms:


If you need a legally binding decision on if a householder proposal requires planning permission, you should apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development under the Town and Country Planning Act 1991 [as amended].

This legally binding certificate is often needed by lenders before funds are released.

Forms and guidance
Link to Form Name/Description Copies Required Link to Guidance Text
Certificate of Lawful Use (Proposed) Form Application for a Lawful Development Certificate for a Proposed use or development 1 Guidance for Certificate of Lawful Use (proposed) form
Certificate of Lawful Use (Existing) Form Application for a Lawful Development Certificate for an Existing use or operation or activity including those in breach of a planning condition 1 Guidance for Certificate of Lawful Use (existing) form


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